Gaming and Gamification (EDIM516 Unit 6)

Just yesterday, this came across my Facebook feed:


Go ahead and click through. It’s worth reading. I’ll wait for you.




Welcome back!

In short game-based learning is the use of games to learn. Gamification is when you take elements of games and apply those elements to your classroom instruction. I’ve used both game-based learning and gamification. I’m a fan of them both.

A couple of years ago, I invited Paul Andersen to speak at the DEN Summer Institute. At the time, he was the Montana Teacher of the Year and a groundbreaker in the land of gamifying the classroom. His TEDxBozeman on Classroom Game Design is a very good use of 10 minutes of your time.

You see, game-based learning and gamification work together. So while I’m going to focus this post primarily on gamification, I can’t leave out the notion of game-based learning.

Game-based Learning

When I was teaching grades 4 and 5 in a resource room setting, games were part of our routine. While not a digital tool at all, the most memorable game (aside from Math Blaster, Oregon Trail, etc) my students played was Shut the Box. Try the digital version. This game teaches fact families and fluency without anyone ever really knowing that’s what is going on. That’s what is amazing about using games (and gamification.) We like games. They help us learn. They are intrinsically motivating (generally speaking, of course). Want to know something more motivating than game playing? Game making!

Lionel Bergeron, an instructional technology director in New York shared an awesome set of materials you can use to do a game making project with your students. Learn about it here.

Enough about game-based learning. Let’s talk about gamification.


I could make the argument that the token-based economy I used in my classroom to manage behavior was gamification. Beyond that, I cannot claim to have experience with gamifying a classroom. What I can claim is to have the most powerful resource in the world of education at the tip of my fingers, the Discovery Education Community and DEN Friends on Facebook. I asked for advice.


Within minutes, there were responses.

Karen Ogen, an instructional technologist from SC shared 10 Strategies to Make Learning Feel More Like a Game, an article she had read that very day. Take a look at the infographic that went along with the article for a quick look at the strategies.



Selena Ward, arts director for a school in MD has been gamifying PD and classes for quite some time. She explains gamification as a type of a scaffolding.


This definition removes the entire debate around gamification being intrinsically or extrinsically motivating. I’m a fan of that. Every kid I have ever taught was different from the other and motivated by different things. I understand that we’re all convinced today that extrinsic motivation is the worst thing ever. (Thank’s Dan Pink! – a lawyer, not a teacher) My experience teaching kids with disabilities and kids who live in poverty taught me that no matter how engaging I make lessons or activities or opportunities to learn, many many many children still would do just about anything for a sticker or another “carrot.” I’m pretty sure it’s more about what the sticker means (“my teacher sees the good in me”) than the sticker.

If we can scaffold for our students and provide them multiple opportunities to receive feedback and to try for success, we’re just being good teachers.

That means I’m all about gamification.


5 thoughts on “Gaming and Gamification (EDIM516 Unit 6)

  1. Thanks for your post. You have brought up the difficulty that we all face when introducing a concept that involves a reward system. It seems that this is a delicate balance. Games do a great job of getting students engaged and persisting at tasks that might be frustrating in a more traditional format. Being able to transfer the skills of persistence to other settings will be our next challenge!


  2. I loved that infographic, specifically the part that talks about how gaming can foster collaboration. Thanks for sharing. Do you think that gamification appeals to all students these days because of the gaming culture we live in?


    1. I think it is the active, engaging style of gamification that engages kids. Especially with elementary (or maybe just my school, who knows) there is so much of the student day that is not that interesting – worksheets, drilling, test-taking strategies – that the students are eager to have the goals, interactions and breaks from the grind that gamification often provides.


  3. Porter,
    I think that the infographic you included would be a wonderful tool with which to base a back-to-school professional development class. The way in which it is broken down seems to create a meaningful sequence of sessions; if a school (or individual educator) was contemplating a new tool to use in the classroom, then it seems that one could just follow the steps here and come out on the other side with a full understanding of the process.

    In addition, as a newbie to twitter, I also found your request for information, enlightening; it encourages me to use it for intellectual pursuits, something which never occurred to me before this course. Thank you.


    1. Misty, that’s a great idea…I’m going to make a note about that infographic. We get so much information that nobody can remember or keep track of but the layout of this one would really make it easy for teacher reference. Thanks to you and Porter!


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